Response to Fasi Zaka’s Article in Express Tribune “Supporting Imran Khan”

Fasi, as an admirer of your op-eds, I am disappointed. Not because you criticized Imran Khan but because you did so without research, superficially and above all with a very obvious agenda. No need to wax lyrical about his accomplishments – there are many and very substantial. You should have spent some time in understanding the issues and why he says what he says. If your level of analysis is the same as that of a mob sitting at a tea stall (no offense to tea stall analysts) then I must says that we are truly doomed. Imran is very clear on how to address the prevalent and major issues in Pakistan, which is much better than giving rhetorical speeches and writing op-eds about what should happen.

Imran talks of Justice and universal human rights – two keys elements which will contribute towards resolving the persecution of minorities and women. The lack of justice in the society has contributed greatly to the radicalization we are experiencing in the country. Imran talks about addressing the root causes of these problems. Now is not the time to be gung ho and just dive head first into this mess without thinking of the long term results of our current decisions. What happened in Pakistan during the 70’s and 80’s has now come back to bite us. We fought the ‘Godless’ soviets because it was the ‘good’ war; earned a lot of ‘aid’ and we were the bulwark for the free world. Fast-forward 30 years; we are hearing the same arguments albeit with slight change in characters. Now it’s the ‘Warriors of God’ and we are still fighting the ‘Good’ war earning a lot of ‘aid’ and still the bulwark for the free world.

Imran has condemned the Taliban repeatedly and yet this is not something you want to hear (or at least choose to report). You are more interested when he condemns ‘American Policy’. Imran has talked about how this society is being radicalized due to this war on terror. We were a state with a sectarian violence issue but now have a full blown civil war on our hands with all kinds of militant groups now operating with impunity. When the state abdicates its responsibility to govern, it creates a vacuum and that is being filled with these religious groups sympathetic to this militancy. We have tried a military solution to this situation and failed miserably, but somehow such lunacy is still preferred to a civilized solution. We need not become animals whilst dealing with them.

Our liberal elite are just as “extreme” as those they criticize. Being Anti-war must mean that one is a ‘Taliban sympathizer’. These sets of “liberals” are so enlightened that they offer solutions such as “nuking FATA and killing off these mullahs”. Surely, this type of liberal venom is akin to the Taliban. The difference being that the Taliban carries out attacks themselves whereas the elite would have our armed forces do it.

To set the record straight, Imran doesn’t believe that US forces’ withdrawal will resolve everything overnight. However, it will create space for a dialogue in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Had you done some background reading into the issue, you would have come across a research conducted by Dr Robert Pape of the University of Chicago studying suicide attacks worldwide since 1980, from 1980 to 2003 there were 343 suicide attacks worldwide with around 10% connected to anti – American movements, since 2003 these attacks have gone up to almost 2000 with over 90% against American interests in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If this isn’t proof of the violence that has been unleashed in Pakistan then I am sure nothing can convince you.

Let’s ease up on the fear mongering – the Taliban and all such militant groups are not in the business of capturing countries and running states, they are in the business of creating anarchy and chaos they thrive in such uncertain environments.

Imran didn’t say that Salman Taseer (RIP) died because of the War on Terror, he said that the war on terror had increased polarization and extremism in Pakistan, the law around Blasphemy is something the majority of this country wants (we can disagree with their point of view, but this is what democracy translates into). What we have to ensure is that it is not misused against anyone – Muslim or minorities. Peace Deals in Swat and Malakand were scuppered within 2 weeks of the agreement being signed, the army was called in and what ensued was not the writ of state being established but a humanitarian catastrophe with 2 million plus people rendered homeless and yet surprisingly militancy still alive in Pakistan. If the peace deals didn’t work as you claim, neither did the military solution which has failed repeatedly for the last 8 years – a fact that you conveniently overlook.

Lastly, when all else fails we accuse him of being a man of the establishment. Conspiracy theories are a Pakistani pastime and are popular amongst both the right wing and liberals. He supported a military dictator and during Musharraf tenure understood his mistake apologized and spent 5 years opposing Musharraf in the assembly. Imran has made mistakes and will make mistakes the thing to look at is has he learnt from his mistakes or not. Let’s not be so self righteous and bring down a man who has done more for Pakistan than this political leadership combined yet we continue to write such agenda driven op – eds, we are harming ourselves in the long run and no one else.

By: Hassan Sadiq


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